July 27, 2011 by Jeff
This is the continuation of my recent journey into the world of player-dom. In the last entry I described the concept of embracing the limitations placed on you by the setting and the DM. To do so I created Alain for this Dark Sun game. Dark Sun is a cruel world dominated by humans who do what they have to do in order to survive. They accept a ravished world ruled by power-hungry masters who utilize slavery as an every day fact of life. So Alain is a human warlord, a member of the Templars of the city-state of Tyr, and he’s willing to do what he needs to do in order to establish his own power and survive. Let’s see how I built the guy!
Well, as I described above, these were easy choices when following the limitations provided, trying to make a character that embraces the setting, and giving myself the challenge of making a Leader character that I would have fun with, since Leader is the role I’m instinctively least interested in.
Human Warlord Templar…done.
Then it was just a matter of scouring the backgrounds to find one that would add some depth to the character in an interesting way. I ended up going with Pivotal Event – Escape. Alain was, actually, a slave at one point in his life and one that spent some time in the gladiator’s arena. He impressed Tythian at some point, however, and earned his freedom (so long as he joined the Templars and did whatever he was told…freedom, right?).
So now he needs stats. He’s a fighter, a former slave, a gladiator…he’s strong. But he’s also a tactician and good at telling folks what to do. STR – 18, INT – 16, and CHA – 12. Everything else is a 10. Nice and round without being a min-max’d powerhouse.
Trained skills often help define a character and I wanted that to be true of Alain. I get to train 5 skills to make some points. Let’s do that.
He’s a leader, but not the touchy-feely sort of leader that’s out looking to help everyone. He’s a battlefield commander and, given the setting, probably sees himself as superior to those around him. That’s why he gives orders, that’s why he’s telling people what to do all the time. Intimidate.
That said, he also trying to fit into a society of higher classes. He knows he’s not better than everyone, there are nobles, after all, and he hasn’t made it into that class yet. But he does have hopes of some day being able to integrate into that social caste. He’s not completely without tact, he just doesn’t waste his time with it when dealing with his inferiors. Diplomacy.
He did spend time as a slave and a gladiator. This meant hard back-breaking work that went on for hours in the hot Dark Sun wastes. Athletics and Endurance.
Lastly, he has to go on special missions for Tythian of the city-state of Tyr. His opening mission (that puts him into the campaign) involved going to another city-state (Urik) escorting a diplomat. This may require him to do some…tricky things. So I’m picking up Stealth to see where this all goes.
Class Features and Feats
As for his class build he’s a sit back and tell others what to do, sort of guy, not a rush up and put himself in danger. That’s not a good survival technique. He’s an Archer Warlord with the Skirmishing Presence, which I envision as him telling people to move into position…and they follow orders.
As for feats…I wasn’t sure at the time if it would be a good idea for the rest of the party (it turned out fine as I ended up with a Ranger/Seeker as a party-mate) but I picked up Archer Captain which allows me to not have to deal with things like long range, which will be nice if I’m going to play an archer. One less fiddly rule to deal with.
Master at Arms is my second feat, because who doesn’t benefit from hitting more. +1 to attacks helps with that. Enough said.
To guide my power choices I kept the style of leader that Alain is. He tells people what to do and he uses his arrows to help point out targets. Everything plays into that. That said, there are some limitations. There are several Warlord builds at this point…only one of them is an archer. So there are a lot of melee attack powers and only a handful of ranged powers. Assuming I want to stick with the ranged powers or powers that make the other PCs in the group do stuff (you know, Alain barking out orders) there are some limitations.
For At-Will powers I picked two things that fit each of the two goals. With Direct the Strike I can tell an ally to attack someone…and they do. Alain barks out an order, and the party rogue gets an extra attack, which hopefully includes sneak attack damage. The other choice is Paint the Bulls-Eye. It’s Alain directing the party with his arrows. “That one! That’s your target!” he yells as he fires an arrow at the enemy, giving his allies a bonus to damage. While he’s not forcing people to follow his orders…they probably will because who doesn’t want extra damage?
I also get an Encounter power and a Daily power, of course. For Encounter powers I really liked Race the Arrow. Not only does it involve using the arrows to direct the party, it gives someone else an attack, AND it gets a bonus from Alain’s build (Skirmisher) that means a bonus to attack and damage.
For the Daily power I like Destructive Surprise. It’s sort of the “I hit the monster with my striker” boosted up. Giving an ally the ability to shift, then do an attack that’s 3[W]+mod damage…and if they’re also a ranger or rogue or the like any bonus damage they get. It’s awesome to the extreme.
So I think the concept of Alain has come together pretty well. I’ve embraced the idea that Alain is doing his job the best when other people are doing cool things. He’s all about giving buffs as well as giving other people attacks.
Here’s the trouble…is this character going to be fun to play? I mean, he’s not doing a ton of damage. Half the time when his action comes up I’m telling other people to roll dice and I’m not doing anything.
That said, I’m also trying to be really mindful of making my actions really fast to be an example to other players that if we can all be prepared we can take care of our actions quickly, do more in a game session, and all have more fun for it.
I’m two sessions in and I am enjoying Alain quite a bit, but I’m not sure if I’m enjoying the mechanics of the character or if I’m having a blast with him because the role-playing and personality of the character have come together really well. He’s been supported at every turn by my DM (see the previous article for some guess as to how that may have happened) and the other players have latched on to him as well…to explain that, however, you’ll have to wait for another article.
Want to see Alain’s sheet? Here’s a PDF of him for your enjoyment!